Most organizations have a procedural guide that defines what’s supposed to be done and by whom, but that’s about it. What’s worse, when a process spans more than a single organizational element, it’s rare to find a worker or managers who are fully familiar with the way a process performs beyond his own realm of responsibility. Because there may be a vast and undiscovered difference between the way an organization’s procedural guide reflects a process is supposed to work and the way it actually works, it’s a good idea to see it for yourself. One of the best and most useful methods of validating the essence of a process is by walking from one end of the process to the other taking quick notes as you go.

“It’s rare to find an immediately available, true and correct description of a process under study.”

Walk the Process to Discover the Real Flow

The value of this step lies in the firsthand knowledge gathered by the modeler where deviations may lie between what is expected and what is actually going on in a process and what issues may lie at the core of the process that make it work the way it does.

Some people feel that it is faster to call a group of process experts into a room and then build the process by listening to the group describe the process. Our experience shows that this actually takes longer (by several times) and is less accurate. The modeler usually has a better feel for how the model should be constructed and why a certain structure should be used and this knowledge can be better implemented when 10 people aren’t standing over his or her shouldera workcell model flow

Walk the Process, making quick notes of the process flow. Urge the process expert to start with the most common flow. Note exceptions and come back to those exceptions later. Collect the duration of the activity, splits, combinations and resources used. Collect what is happening at each activity.

As the modeler Walks the Process, it is useful to collect all data entry forms used. If the form is electronic then, do a screen print and highlight the fields that would be entered or changed. Make notes about the form or document used by placing a number the form and the same number on your notes where the form is used, linking them for later reference. Similarly, if other tools, devices or helps are needed, collect samples or make note of the requirement.

Process duration is best collected by using three points to estimate the duration of an activity. Ask the question “How long does it usually take to perform this operation?” Then ask “What is the shortest amount of time is has taken to accomplish this task?” Finally ask “What is the longest amount of time it has taken to accomplish this task?” These three times can now be arranged into a triangular distribution that will be used in ProcessModel. The distribution will be written T(min, most likely, max). That time value will eventually be placed in the time field of the general tab. Capturing the variability of a process is crucial to creating an accurate model.